White Spirits: Facts, Figures, Analysis

Most vodka is grain-based, though some is made from grapes and milk whey. Vodka wasn’t even originally made from potatoes (potatoes didn’t make it to Europe until the 16th century when Spanish Conquistadors brought them back from Peru). Potatoes have since proven a viable source in vodka production, but all you really need to make vodka is a sugar source (even just sugar).

Reyka vodka has been looking for bartenders to enter its Expedition cocktail competition by creating a Reyka cocktail inspired by their own interpretation of ‘adventure.’ Six bartenders will then be formed into a team and sent on an outdoor experience in the Lake District on 8 and 9 July, with the winning team going to Iceland in August.

Premium Gin (anything priced 10% above market leader) is in great health in Scotland. Total Premium Gin category displayed 21.4% growth vs 2017 in Volume, and was up 20.7% in Value sales. Premium Gin was stocked in 9,199 Scottish venues in 2018. (CGA Scotland, P12 2018)

Smirnoff has unveiled a new bottle. The brand has redesigned its entire portfolio packaging, including the Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka bottle. The redesign can be seen across all Smirnoff Vodka variants, including Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka, Smirnoff 100 Proof Vodka, Smirnoff Espresso Vodka and Smirnoff Small Batch Black Vodka.

You might find this surprising but the the best growth in Premium Gin sales last year came from wet led local & community pubs). Volumes increased by 96.1%. Interestingly, hotels sold less Gin than the previous year, at -5.6% decline. (CGA Scotland, P10 2018).

When you drink vodka in Russia, you don’t just drink vodka. You toast, then you drink, and then you toast, then you drink again. And the toasts are supposed to come in a very specific order. Back in the day, it was always “To Stalin!” Yeah!” Toasts have obviously since changed, but depending
on where you are, whom or what you toast first, second, third, and so on matters.

The best growth in Premium Gin sales last year came from Wet Led (local & community pubs) which was up 96.1% in volume sales, closely followed by sports & social clubs at +94.1%. Interestingly, hotels sold less Gin than the previous year, at -5.6% decline.
(CGA Scotland, made Iceland P10 2018).

Brands like Ryaka, Ketel One, Russian Standard and Finlandia – all of which are premium brands – are showing good growth according to CGA. For instance Ketel One (+166.8%), ….for context, % increase vs 2017.
(CGA Scotland, P10 2018)

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum is the number 6 best-selling spirit in the UK on-trade by value and number 7 by volume.
(CGA February 2018).

“The biggest gin sellers are Whitley Neill and Edinburgh gin. And as well as becoming more gin brand aware, customers are also far more clued-up about garnishes and botanicals. There’s not nearly as much interest in vodka – not unless it’s flavoured. Bacardi is well in the shade compared to darker rums (our house-pour is Brugal) and tequila sales are ticking over steadily but there’s nothing else to report on that one really.”
Kieran Hughes, Bag O’Nails, Glasgow

“More people are asking for Grey Goose and Ciroq or flavoured vodka, like Absolut Raspberry, but not to the extent of gin. On saying that, our gin sales haven’t eclipsed our vodka sales. Smironoff’s market share has been steadier than Gordon’s – I’d say that 50% of customers request a particular gin, whereas for the most part it’s Smirnoff for vodka.”
Lee Bruce, The Fort Hotel, Broughty Ferry

Smirnoff Red is distributed in 9,168 venues but Grey Goose is now in 2,984.

“It’s gin and vodka all the way. Tequila and white rum barely get a look in unless it’s in cocktails like a Mojito. Gin is up 400 per cent in terms of what I’m stocking but vodka is standing still. I’ve noticed that a lot more guys are drinking G&Ts instead of drinking pints.”
Matt Ronald, Manager, Blue Dog, Glasgow

“Ten years ago half of the gantry would be vodka but now it’s gin. Whitley Neill gin has really taken off lately but our biggest seller is Glaswegian. We serve it with an apple fan and Fever Tree tonic. One of our regulars also likes it with Appletiser. Brockman’s gin is also
selling well.

“Tequila sales are also up in the last three months and brands like Olmeca and Don Julio have always been marketed really well. We do a mixture of honey and coffee and the added sweetness really takes away the tequila hit.”
John Kennedy, Millhouse, Stewarton


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